The sudden shift of focus from copper and galvanized steel pipes to PEX piping might leave you wondering, “What is PEX in plumbing?”. Most plumbers and DIYers now prefer PEX over traditional steel and copper pipes because they are lightweight, reliable, and easy to install.
With the advent of PEX plumbing, even inexperienced DIYers can quickly retrofit their plumbing systems so long as they have the right tools. However, it’s still advisable to work with plumbing experts from J. Blanton Plumbing, since that can help you avoid plumbing issues that might arise.
This guide explores everything you need to know about PEX plumbing, including the features of PEX pipes and how to join them. You’ll also learn why PEX pipes come in different colors.
What is PEX plumbing?
PEX piping is a type of flexible plastic made of cross-linked polyethylene (PEX), and is currently substituting copper and galvanized steel pipes. PEX pipes come in various colors, making them more appealing than other pipes. The colors can help to distinguish the pipes’ content.
The great news about PEX piping is that you can easily bend, twist, and crush them. Also, the pipes can regain their original shapes and structures when heated at low temperatures. They can link to existing copper pipes when tightened with clamp-fit, push-fit, or crimp-fit connectors.
Features of PEX piping systems
If you’ve ever noticed colorful pipes in your plumbing system, you’ve seen PEX pipes. They usually come in various colors, including red, blue, white, and gray. Each color represents unique pipe content.
Here are the particulars of different pipe colors:
- Blue PEX pipes: Transport hot water
- Red PEX pipes: Transport cold water
- White/gray PEX pipes: Can carry cold or hot water
The great news is that PEX piping can withstand cold and hot water temperatures, which is why many plumbers use it for water systems in residential and business properties. But despite being temperature-resistant, PEX is still prone to sunlight damage.
Another notable characteristic of PEX piping is that it comes in various lengths and diameter sizes. So you can easily find the right size and type for the job you’re working on, whether it’s for minor repairs or a complete overhaul of your plumbing system. Thankfully, PEX pipes exhibit fantastic flexibility.
Why PEX piping is ideal for most plumbers and DIYers
PEX plumbing has become the number one choice for many plumbers and DIYers due to its incredible features. This piping material has gained popularity, and its use is almost surpassing traditional copper and galvanized steel pipes.
Here are the reasons most plumbers prefer PEX to other piping systems.
More affordable than copper pipes
PEX pipes are inexpensive and are more affordable compared to copper piping systems. They typically cost a third of the expense of copper pipes. This can result in thousands of dollars being saved.
Incredible flexibility in bending easily
PEX pipes are flexible and can bend 90 degrees without breaking, leaving much wiggle room for installation.
Color-coded for quick identification
Like electrical wires, PEX pipes also come in differently-coded colors, with each color code representing the specific pipe contents.
For example, you can use red PEX pipes for hot water supply lines, blue PEX pipes for cold water, and white PEX pipes for hot or cold water supplies.
Easy to cut due to its soft nature
PEX pipes are soft, making it easier for plumbers and DIYers to cut through them compared to copper and galvanized pipes.
You can use simple cutting tools like a rotational tool with a razor blade to cut the PEX pipes. Also, using your hand, you can cut it in one snap with a tube cutter.
Quick and easy to join using connectors
Joining PEX pipes is easy when you have connectors. You won’t need any other unique tools besides your hands to join the pipes.
You can use different connectors, including crimp-fit, push-fit, and clamp-fit. However, most plumbers prefer crimp-fit connectors, as they are easy to master.
How to join PEX pipes in a plumbing system
So far, we’ve answered the question, “What is PEX in plumbing?” However, it’s also important to understand how PEX pipes are joined together in a plumbing system.
Here are the different ways to join a PEX pipe in a plumbing system.
Thermal expansion involves using a heat gun to expand one end of a PEX pipe. Once you have removed the heat gun, quickly slip the expanded end into your preferred fitting. As the PEX pipe cools, it will contract and conform tightly over the fitting. This is one of the fastest ways to join PEX pipes.
This method requires push-fit connectors to join PEX pipes. All you need to do is push one end of the connector into the plumbing fitting, then press the PEX pipe into the remaining end of the connector. The good news is that it requires no additional tools and only requires that you use your hands.
When you opt for this connection technique, you use crimp-fit connectors to hold the PEX pipes together. All you need to do is fit the PEX piping into a brass fitting. Then, the copper rings will tighten around the plumbing connection.
This method of joining PEX pipes uses clamp-fit connectors to tighten the pipes. The connectors work like copper rings, encircling the PEX piping. It’s best to force the clamp rings tightly into the PEX pipes using a plumbing tool designed for this purpose.
PEX plumbing has many advantages
Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is a PEX plumbing system,” you can comfortably invest in it. You’ll save more money in the long run and can reduce the time and effort needed to connect your pipes.
An expert plumber from J. Blanton Plumbing can help you install new piping. Want to know more about “What is PEX plumbing system?” Contact us today to gain more insight!